An inquiry into the Clutha helicopter crash has found that the pilot “took a chance” and ignored low fuel warnings.
Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull said the crash happened because Captain David Traill had ignored the five warnings he received during the flight.
He said that was a “conscious decision” which had “fatal consequences”.
Ten people died when a police aircraft crashed into the roof of the busy Glasgow bar on 29 November 2013.
The tragedy claimed the lives of the 51-year-old pilot, his two crew members and seven customers in the pub.
The other victims were PC Tony Collins, 43; PC Kirsty Nelis, 36, and customers Gary Arthur, 48; Joe Cusker, 59; Colin Gibson, 33; Robert Jenkins, 61; John McGarrigle, 58; Samuel McGhee, 56; and Mark O’Prey, 44. Another 31 people were injured.
During the fatal accident inquiry, Sheriff Turnbull heard testimony from families, experts and eyewitnesses.
In his findings, he said there was “no doubt” that the crash had happened because the helicopter’s engines “flamed out” due to a lack of fuel.
The fuel supply tanks had been depleted because Captain Traill had failed to ensure that at least one of the aircraft’s fuel transfer pump switches was on.
“The central question for the inquiry is why did that happen?” said Sheriff Principal Turnbull.
“The answer is a simple one. Captain Traill ignored the low fuel warnings he received.”
He said the accident would not have happened if the pilot had followed the normal procedure for dealing with low fuel warnings.
The Pilot’s Checklist stipulated that he should land the aircraft within 10 minutes of a fuel warning.
“Captain Traill took a chance that the low fuel warnings he received were erroneous.
“That was a conscious decision on his part. It was a decision that had fatal consequences for 10 people.”
Sheriff Turnbull also said that the Eurocopter EC135, manufactured by Airbus, should have had a visible and audible warning which would activate when both fuel transfer pumps had been switched off.
The pumps, which were both switched off during the flight, supplied fuel from the main tank to the helicopter’s twin engines.
Sheriff Turnbull said: “The circumstances of the accident are so unusual that it is improbable they will be repeated, even without the introduction of the safety actions taken since the accident.”
He added that the tragedy “changed forever the lives of many people” and praised the dignity of those who attended the 32-day inquiry.
- 29 November 2013: A police helicopter crashes onto the Clutha bar in Glasgow, killing 10 people
- 9 December 2013: AAIB preliminary report finds no evidence of a “major” engine or gearbox failure, and says there was 95 litres of fuel on board the aircraft
- 14 February 2014: An AAIB special report finds both engines “flamed out” but does not pinpoint the cause
- 23 October 2015: The AAIB’s final report finds the main cause of accident to be mismanagement of the fuel system by the pilot
- 24 November 2017: Fatal accident inquiry announced
- 8 April 2019: Fatal accident inquiry begins at Hampden Stadium in Glasgow